Category Archives: GENERAL

DETROIT’S ACE

 

I admit-my two pups make me extremely sensitive to animal cruelty and neglect.  My little maniacs bring so much love and tenderness into my life, that just the thought of anything hurting them breaks my heart.  I realize that I cannot end all the animal cruelty in the world-where that anybody could.  But this particular case has really caught my attention.

This beautiful starving pit bull wandered into an ACE hardware in Detroit.  He showed no signs of aggressive behavior, was given food and water by the employees who then thought they were doing the right thing by calling Animal Control.  Because no owner has stepped forward to claim him, he is scheduled to be destroyed this Friday.  Several shelters and and people have wanted to take Ace and care for him, but Animal Control will not release him.  Instead they are insisting on ending his life.


Ace (named after the store) to me is like the city of Detroit.  Ignored, left for dead but with a survivor’s spirit that cannot be described.  So why is the city taking it upon itself to kill him-when there are literally hundreds of people that are willing to take him in? Why would they choose to smother this pup’s heart, when there are so many people that want to do the right thing to fill it?

Obviously, we can’t save every animal that suffers the savagery of man.  But we can try and make a difference.  Especially considering how little goes a long way.  Please go to Ace’s FB page, sign the petition or  call Mayor Bing’s office 313-224-3400.

And if Ace doesn’t make it, please consider sending a small donation in his name to the Humane Soceity or  check out some local animal helpers like  this 110+Abandoned Dogs of the Everglades FB site and see how an old toy or blanket can make a difference to an animal that needs reminding that some of us are in touch with our humanity.

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PARA LA DAMA

In 2003 Hector Maseda, leader of the Cuban Liberal party, along with 74 other journalists, librarians and human rights activists, were arrested in what is now known Cuba’s Black Spring. The accused were sentenced to everywhere between 6-28 years of prison. Their crimes? Committing their words about social reforms and human rights in Cuba to paper. The regime swept in and crushed their activities never imagining that the the wives, mothers and daughters of the convicted would band together to form Las Damas de Blanco and make their message soar.

Dressed in white and carrying gladiolas, they walked along Cuba’s historic fifth avenue every Sunday after attending mass at Santa Rita. With a silent march that screamed all the words that were illegal to utter, without saying a word, Las Damas caught the ear of international human rights groups and in 2005 won the Sakharov prize. Eventually, Castro’s cowardly and dishonorable thugs did the only thing they could in the face of such courage. They assaulted them. Routinely. Laura Pollan in particular, Maseda’s wife, caught my attention because she always fearlessly looked straight into the eyes of her oppressors. Without pause, the strength of her gaze was mesmerizing. After each attack, Laura spoke with fierce ease about what the Ladies had endured and with relentless passion doubled down on their unwavering commitment to Cuba’s prisoners of conscience.

A few years ago, after the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and a particularly brutal beating endured by Las Damas, Spain and the Cuban Catholic church negotiated to release the Black Spring prisoner’s of conscience and forced them into exile. And handful of them, including Laura’s husband refused the expatriation and were released just eight months ago. Laura announced that the Ladies who chose to stay would march until all Cuba’s prisoner’s of conscience were released. And once again, she blew me away. Her courage was astounding.

Although I’ve born witness to great acts of courage, the nature of courage defies description. Like energy, it can’t be created or destroyed and often surprises those it decides to work through. It’s variations are endless but the results of a courageous action, no matter how small, settles a being. Courage doesn’t parade itself but it makes its mark. It’s not easy, but its clarity is as illuminating as it is transcendent.

Laura Pollan died of cardiac arrest in a Havana hospital Friday night after supposedly fighting Dengue fever and respiratory complications for a week. I don’t think Laura ever expected to be a one of Cuba’s greatest patriots but the fates new better and chose this small woman with the roar of a caged lion to take up all of our country’s cause.

Today, I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am for her sacrifice. But I know that one day, Cuba will once again bloom because of it. Paz, luz y progresso Laura. Descansa, que ahora caminaremos nosotros.

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DEMON RIDERS

Comedy is grotesque. It’s sublime, vulgar, witty, ridiculous, painful, dangerous and tender. But most of all, grotesque. An exaggeration of that moment where we don’t look our best, say the right thing, seem attractive or composed. It’s also the moment in life where we are at our most human, our most vulnerable, our most honest. And it’s often the sanctuary for those of us that get the horse named Demon.

Every year, in summer camp-we would go horseback riding once a week. Cutesy little Courtney and Adorable Ashley, who always wore their hair in perfect little ribbons, always got to ride ‘Peaches’ or ‘Butter Cup’. I was a pudgy little girl with a horrible bowl haircut so the counselors would put me on ‘Demon’ and tell me not to be such a coward. It didn’t matter that Demon was wild and unpredictable, they’d plop me on his insane back with a sneer and off I went, bowl hair cut and all, bouncing on the trail in an awkward and terrifying dash. When people tell me how funny I am, all I can think is ‘What choice did I have?’ A wicked sense of humor is usually the result of a life full of ‘Demons’.

Demon Riders have a way of standing out. I don’t know why I was able to stay up late to watch Saturday Night Live when I was little-but I remember watching a lot of it. I loved Belushi and Radner. I was thrown off by Jane Curtains’ composure and a little scared by Dan Akroyd’s ferociousness but as I grew up I began to understand the roles everybody played and enjoyed them all the more because at the heart of what they did…there was something dark and sad and dangerous about their comedy. And I recognized it. Although I haven’t seen many of them since.

Like millions of moviegoers, I discovered Melissa McCarthy when I went to see Bridesmaids. I always gird my loins whenever I see a fat girl on screen because we are a rare breed and I will invariably be compared to her. But about 15 minutes in, I was laughing as hard as everybody else. She was amazing and fierce and went THERE. And it was insanely refreshing. At first I thought it may be just a one time thing. Then she hosted Saturday Night Live and there was one particular sketch that really caught my eye…

In the Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing skit, Melissa plays a sad sack of desperate for attention geek that grossly pours all the salad dressing down her throat to impress the surveyor. I thought it was the strongest skit, a friend of mine thought it was too much. So I asked, “Had she been Belushi, would you have thought she went to far, or would you have thought it was brilliant?” And it was like flipping a light switch.

Men in comedy get to be fat and grubby and real. They get to draw their humor from their hardships. Louis C.K. is a great example. He lives THERE. But women are expected to be funny in a way that doesn’t detract from their ‘attractiveness’ . They always say they are gross or awkward but at the end of the day-they’re gorgeous and even when they’re funny-it feels like they’re winking at the camera. When you do see a fat woman on screen-she’s never the set up, she’s the punchline. But Melissa McCarthy defies gender and prejudice with pure talent. Of course she’s blowing everybody away, she owns her body and turns it on us, relentlessly. She doesn’t need to make fun of herself because she understands that the real comedy lies in the prejudices we have about the characters she brings to life. She’s a genuine throwback whose relishing in the grotesqueness of life while effortlessly riding ‘Demon’ far into what I can only hope is comedy’s future. And I for one can’t wait.

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NEW YORK SYMPHONY

Every New Yorker is a world unto himself.   Arrogant enough to live out loud while understanding their ultimate insignificance enough to assume nobody’s really listening.  But I am.  I always am because I am endlessly fascinated by the words people use.  By how they talk to one another.  By what they choose to say.

This is the first in a a series of such expressions I’ve overheard while riding a train, a bus or walking down the street.  Some of them ridiculous, some wise, some touching…but all of them part of the cacophony of humanity that this wonderful city orchestrates.

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THROWN IN

IN IT NOW

When I was four, my family moved in to a house with a pool on the bay.   I already knew how to swim, but back then, Miami homes weren’t the mini fenced in fortresses they are now.  My dad wanted to prevent any tragic accidents so he hired a swimming instructor and invited all the neighborhood kids to take lessons at my house twice a week.

At the end of six weeks we could’ve all landed in the bay and fared pretty well, so we had a ‘graduation party’.  Everybody was going to show off their skills for parents and friends.  Because my dad never missed an opportunity to boost my ego, he told me that my swim would be the grand finale.  So I watched as each one of my little friends had their moment of glory,  without incident and to plenty of applause, patiently building up to my big moment.

I walked up to the edge of the pool in my Snoopy bathing suit, curled my toes around the edge of the bleached coral tile, threw my hands back in perfect diver form and looking into the still water of the deep end, I stepped back, shook my head ‘no’ looked up at my confused dad and as soon as we made eye contact, took off running.  Everybody was cheering and chanting ‘Cami! Cami!’ as my dad chased me around the pool.  I was jumping over makeshift blockades and waving away towels.  I stopped to catch my breath and see where my Dad was, then I darted in the other direction.  That’s when I saw this arm hold out a pretzel rod.  I remember thinking, “I never get to eat those!” and I stopped to take it.  And  just as I was about to bite into it, my dad locked both his hands around my torso and threw me in the pool.

Right away I started kicking and paddling and finished the lap in a flash.  As I pulled myself out on the other end, I looked up to see my dad, smiling as he lifted me up and threw me in again.  This time, I took a right at the midway point and propped myself out of the pool. Soggy pretzel rod in hand, tired, but happy.  I was thrown into the deep end and I survived.  My grandmother almost didn’t, but I did.  And my dad picked me up in his arms laughing and yelling, ” You see!  I knew you could do it!”

Mind you, this wasn’t child abuse, it was Cuban  70’s child rearing.  My dad knew full well that the only thing that would turn any moment of crisis into a tragedy was hesitation.   When I fell off a horse, he literally, put me right back on it.  If I ever got queasy on a flight , he’d radio tower and go up again.  And to this day, my only regrets haven’t been my failures, but the times that I have failed to act.

I’ve been running around this blog for a couple of years now.  Looking into the deep end of it, starting up and falling off.  This time my cousin Eli held out the pretzel rod  and my sister- a phenomenal blogger herself , has thrown me in.  I don’t know what I’ll find on the other side of this, but I’m pretty sure my dad is smiling and I can tell you I’m already pretty happy to be rolling in the deep.

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